Did you know that Paranormal Activity 2 is Playing at AMC Kent Station in Kent, WA at 10:00pm and 12:15am tonight; it is currently clear and 46 degrees in Cando, ND; regular gasoline is $2.51 at the Sinclair station at 800 W Hampden Ave in Sheridan, CO; and today is a 9 out of 10 day for anyone whose astrological sign Cancer?
Why do I know all of this? Is it because I have way too much time on my hands? That, or maybe I’ve been on the phone with Bing 411 for half an hour, or perhaps both.
As I’m sure most of you have heard, Google is shutting down Goog411, its directory-assistance service that uses voice recognition to connect callers to businesses, on November 12.
Instead of leaving you alone in the cold, dark world, I’ve put together a list of a few alternates to the service that you can use once Google has pulled the plug.
Bing 411 (1-800-BING411 / 1-800-246-4411)
The first alternative I tried to Goog-411 was Bing 411. Now, the reason I spent half an hour on the phone with Bing411 was because of the large amount of options offered. When you first call Bing411 you are given the option to “Tell me my choices” to which Bing411 replies with Driving Directions, Traffic, Weather, Movies, Sports, Stock Quotes, Cheap Gas, Horoscopes, News, Time, Travel, and Favorites. That is more than a few options. I’ll give you a brief run-down of what each option will do for you.
Pretty straight forward, say your current location and your desired destination and Bing411 will give you step by step directions via voice on your phone or, should you want it, a text message.
Like Driving Directions Plus. Say your location and desired destination. Bing411 will then give you a few different routes with traffic density and estimated travel time.
The weather option is really what you would expect from a weather option. It tells you the weather.
This was probably the most in depth option I found on Bing411. You have the option of searching for a movie, or a theater. Searching for a movie gives you a list of theaters currently showing it. Choosing one gives you the option of connecting to it by phone or being sent the information by text. If you search for a theater near you, you’re given all the theaters in your area. Choosing one will give you all the movies playing and their play times.
I was pretty disappointed with the sports option. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but when I searched for the Green Bay Packers all Bing 411 gave me was the result of their last game and date and time of their next one.
When I chose cheap gas for Denver, CO , I received a list of gas stations with their prices of regular unleaded gas.
Give Bing your sign and get a prediction for the day. No word on how accurate it is though. Today is supposed to be a 9/10 day for me so let’s hope for the best.
Pick news and you get a broad range of choices such as top stories, technology, sports, etc. Pick a category and you’ll get an update on news in that area. Searching technology got me a story about police in England using social media sites to track criminals.
Free 411 (1-800-FREE411 / 1-800-373-3411)
Free 411 was the only other voice recognition 411 number I could find. The amount of options are quite a bit fewer than Bing. The options are to search for Government, Business, Residential, Weather, and Horoscopes.
The Government, Business, and Residential options just lookup the name/address of whatever your are looking for. After you find the location you’re looking for you can have the address/phone number texted to your phone.
The weather option gives you basic current weather in any city and state.
Horoscope was very similar to Bing’s just gives you a prediction. Again I can’t say much for the accuracy. I’ll let you know if before the night is done an unexpected lover sweeps me off my feet.
An interesting feature I found with Free 411 was if you call it back after you’ve made a search it will give you the option to “repeat last number” in case you forgot the one you just got.
These are the only two voice recognition services available that I could find as suitable replacements for GOOG-411. Of the two, Bing411 has way more options and a lot more depth and features. Free411 is good especially if you’re just looking for directions to somewhere.
As far as their ability to recognize what I was saying, Free411 seemed to pick up what I was saying a little better. Also it was a lot more responsive. Bing wouldn’t let me interrupt it very easily. It seemed like I had to listen to a certain amount of an option before I could say something and skip the rest.
As far as ads are concerned, Bing had significantly fewer. It seemed that Bing’s ad scheme was set up on a timer and every so often you’d get one. On Free411 you got an ad when you started and when you finished a search and every time you started over.
They are both useful if you’re looking for a 411 type voice service. Personally, I was interested in the various text based services such as previously covered Google SMS (Text 466453) or Yahoo! SMS (Text 92466) search. These allow you to do basically everything that their voice counterparts to, but just with a simple text. For example, text Sushi 94040 and receive the name and address of all the sushi joints close to that zipcode.
Have an alternative to GOOG-411 I didn’t cover? Post it in the comments below!